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Jul 16, 2015 3:25 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

New York State Supreme Court Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against Harbor Raw Bar And Lounge In Montauk

The Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge in Montauk has been issued a Temporary Restraining Order. KYRIL BROMLEY
Jul 21, 2015 2:51 PM

The Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge in Montauk was issued a temporary restraining order by the State Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 15, to prevent it from becoming dangerously overcrowded and from operating as a nightclub.

The establishment is one of several in Montauk that have been under fire recently due to complaints from residents about the rowdy nightlife that has gripped the hamlet this summer.

But, according to East Hampton Town, the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge has gone beyond rowdy and has put the lives of its patrons in danger.

In his affidavit to show support and specific cause for the TRO, East Hampton Town Senior Fire Marshal Thomas Baker described the scene on the premises on July 12. He noted that the owners and operators exhibited a “wanton disregard” for public safety. He said they have repeatedly violated the East Hampton Town code as well as the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code.

On that same night, Mr. Baker said the fire alarm went off at the establishment three times, but the owner did not evacuate the patrons any of those times. According to his affidavit, when patrons of the establishment were finally evacuated by the fire marshal and fire chief, Raw Bar and Lounge owner Robert Hirsh was concerned only about his loss of profit.

“I just lost $25,000 to $30,000,” the fire marshal quoted Mr. Hirsh as saying in the affidavit.

Mr. Hirsh denied that this incident occurred when asked about it last week.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a release last week that the TRO addresses the establishment’s safety violations. It cannot operate as a nightclub and cannot exceed its occupancy, which is 68 people. There have been times, however, such as on the night of July 12, when, according to the affidavit, the bar has been flooded with upward of 300 people.

“There is no possible configuration of the interior of the structure which could accommodate the safe evacuation of 300 persons from this building during the course of an emergency,” Mr. Baker explained in the affidavit.

Specifically, for restaurants, the maximum occupancy calculations permit only one person for every 15 square feet—and the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge significantly exceeded that. Even if it had a permit to be a nightclub, the maximum occupancy would be 130 people.

If the Harbor Raw Bar violates the TRO, ordered by State Supreme Court Justice Denise F. Molia, the business can be held in criminal contempt of court.

“This is all politics,” Mr. Hirsh said last week. “The town is trying to appease the Montauk residents,” he added, referring to the recent outrage over rowdy nightlife in the hamlet.

“It is simply a matter that there is a violation that is continuing, and we want to do everything we can to eliminate any illegal activity,” Supervisor Cantwell said of the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge.

Mr. Hirsh called the TRO an “agreement” with the town and said that the restaurant is also concerned about the safety of its patrons. “We are kind of caught up in the whole Montauk situation right now,” he said, referring to the hard-partying youths who are often irresponsible, intoxicated and spilling onto the streets. “They are just concerned about having our place become something they don’t want.”

On the night of July 12, that was the case at the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge, according to Mr. Baker’s affidavit: “While trying to make my way through the overly crowded front room of the restaurant, I encountered a large group of patrons jumping up and down and chanting, ‘The house is on fire, burn it down, burn it down,’ which made it almost impossible to get past.”

This is not the first time the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge has run afoul of the town code. It has been cited with numerous previous violations: overcrowding, operating an outside assembly place without a permit, and failing to obtain site plan approval, a building permit, and a certificate of occupancy for outside use of the wood pizza oven, lighting, fencing, and deck.

As a result of the TRO, Mr. Hirsh explained, the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge will now have security personnel on staff to enforce the code and avoid further violations.

The TRO against the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge will remain in place until July 30, when the town reconvenes in court to further discuss the establishment’s failure to abide by the code.

“They are permitted, and they have the appropriate approval, to operate a restaurant and bar—and they cannot over-occupy their space,” Mr. Cantwell said.

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"This is all politics", "The town is trying to appease the Montauk residents."
EXACTLY you knucklehead, 'cuz guess who they work for?!?!?!?
It is a social cesspool out there and the folks that live there don't deserve it for one more minute.
By TimNichols (7), on Jul 16, 15 4:02 PM
Social cesspool? Do you live here? If not, you'll pardon me for thinking your comment is uninformed.
By tm (174), mtk on Jul 16, 15 8:19 PM
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jul 16, 15 5:21 PM
So they are going to close the one that holds . . .68 people. Then they'll crow about it come election time.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Jul 16, 15 5:41 PM
Wake up Montauk!!--Incorporate as a Village.
There was a movement started in the early 90's --then fizzled.
If ever there was a time to revive it--now is the time!!

Montauk Village police force and code enforcement--making life miserable for these greedy operators who destroy your quality of life. This is exactly why Villages are formed.

Shouting at town officials in a firehouse ain't going to cut it.
Either commit to some extra taxes, and the heavy lifting of Village ...more
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Jul 16, 15 7:54 PM
Another case of locals not knowing who pays their tab. Check out how well it worked out when Hampton bays kicked out group rentals. It is a dump with 10 people in every house.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 16, 15 9:03 PM
hey chief thats two below the belt shots at HB tonight whats you real motive ? coach football maybe ?
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Jul 16, 15 9:24 PM
In the 80's it was Westhampton Beach. The share house next to me would wake us up at 3am in the morning jumping into the pool and partying but that was the way it was. No code, no police. Then WHB died. Thank goodness actually as I'm now older. Then it went to Hampton Bays and you'd hear of Boardy Barn, Seaport, JP O Dees, Neptunes, Drift Inn. Gone except Boardy Barn. Now it's Montauk's turn. It was bound to happen and will continue to happen until the richest of the rich, old money, and old ...more
By lirider (288), Westhampton Beach on Jul 17, 15 5:53 AM
"all town politics"???? get a publicist! what he SHOULD have said: "we regret any disturbances our patrons may have infringed upon our beloved montauk and its residents. we are fortunate to be in such a special location, and will do everything possible to solve this ongoing problem, which faces many local businesses."
By StacyMeyrowitz (2), Brooklyn, New York on Jul 17, 15 6:11 PM
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